Romans 14:1-13/ The Law of Liberty (Sermon notes and Audio)

Posted on August 2, 2014

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This is the fifty-fifth in a series of verse-by-verse expositions of the book of Romans. This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on the morning of July 27, 2014. This message deals with the believer’s liberty in Christ, and the importance of avoiding division over non-essential matters of conscience. This post contains an audio recording of my message, along with my sermon notes and a study outline. Please note that the sermon notes are not a full transcript.

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Romans 14_1-13

SERMON OUTLINE:

 

SERMON NOTES:

Romans 14:1-13

The Law of Liberty

Paul was addressing those who were strong in the faith, that is, those who understood their spiritual liberty in Christ and were not enslaved to diets or holy days.

The “weak in faith” were immature believers who felt obligated to obey legalistic rules concerning what they ate and when they worshiped.

Those converted to Christianity in the first century didn’t come with minds like empty slates.

They had had years of living in Judaism or in some paganism, and in the process had acquired deeply rooted habits and attitudes.

They did some things but avoided others. When they became Christians, all this did not drop away from them in a moment.

Those believers were unable to let go of the religious ceremonies and rituals of their past.

The weak Jewish believer had difficulty abandoning the rites and prohibitions of the law; he felt compelled to adhere to dietary laws, observe the Sabbath, and offer sacrifices in the temple.

The weak Gentile believer had been steeped in pagan idolatry and its rituals.

He felt that any contact with anything remotely related to his past, including eating meat that had been offered to a pagan deity and then sold in the marketplace, tainted him with sin.

Both had very sensitive consciences in these areas, and were not yet mature enough to be free of those convictions.

Even today, many people have the idea that the Christians who follow strict rules are the most mature, but this is not necessarily the case.

In the Roman assemblies, the weak Christians were those who clung to the Law and did not enjoy their freedom in the Lord.

The weak Christians were judging and condemning the strong Christians, and the strong Christians were despising the weak Christians.

This created a division that ought not exist. Those who are weak in the faith, and no less important to those who are strong in the faith.

It is the responsibility of the stronger believer to set the example, and embrace those who are weaker in the faith.

v.1:

Mature believers are not to dispute non-essential matters with weaker believers.

As long as fundamental matters are not involved, Christians should attempt live in harmony with one-another.

However, fundamental Biblical doctrines are NOT to be compromised, that they are God’s own word.

Galatians 1:8

Galatians 1:11

We also need to be mindful of the fact that those who come from another worldview may not readily make sense of the Gospel.

1 Corinthians 1:23

As Christians, we have an obligation to live according to the Gospel we preach.

1 Corinthians 9:14

vv.2-3:

It doesn’t matter if one feels its wrong to eat certain things, and another has no problem eating anything.

Paul makes it clear that we are not to concern ourselves with such things.

Colossians 2:16

v.4:

Let’s be clear that Paul is speaking about the saved, those who God has already received. (v.3)

As such, we are accountable only to our master, The Lord Jesus Christ.

How Christ evaluates each believer is what matters, and his judgment does not take into account religious tradition or personal preference.

Romans 8:33–34

1 Cor. 4:3–5

v.5:

Just as with the food, Scripture makes it clear that whatever days one chooses to observe or not observe is a matter of personal conviction.

Colossians 2:16-17

v.6:

It matters not at all whether or not someone chooses to observe the sabbath.

It matters not at all whether or not someone chooses to observe the Old Testament feasts.

It matters not at all whether or not someone chooses to observe Christmas or Easter.

This applies to EVERY other day. Each and every day belongs to God first, and what matters is what we do with that day.

The real issue is one of the heart. Is that which is being done being done to the Lord?

Colossians 3:17

vv.7-9:

We live and die in relation to the Lord; therefore, Christians should aim to please the Lord.

Difference of opinion on such non-essential matters should not divide the church.

vv.10-11:

This entire dispute revolves primarily around the ceremonial law. (Food offered to idols, observing certain holy days)

It is not the food or the day that defiles a man, rather the things that proceed out of the man’s mouth.

Matthew 15:17–20

Whether or not it is done to honor God, is what He will judge.

1 Corinthians 4:5

Everyone WILL face our Lord at some point. When the believer stands before God, the merits of his works will be judged.

It will become immediately clear, regardless of the food he ate or the days he observed, whether those works honored God.

vv.12-13:

We are all individually accountable to Christ; therefore, we are not to judge (condemn) each other in such trivial things.

We need to put away foolish disputes, and remove the stumbling blocks which may cause another to fall.

We must be conscious of our relation to other believers, so as to be sensitive to their convictions in such matters.

Both strong and weak Christians can cause their brothers and sisters to stumble.

The strong but insensitive Christian may flaunt his or her freedom and intentionally offend others’ consciences.

The weak Christian may try to fence others in with petty rules and regulations, thus causing dissension.

Paul wants his readers to be both strong in the faith and sensitive to others’ needs.

Because we are all strong in some areas and weak in others, we need to constantly monitor the effects of our behavior on others.

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